July 19, 2010

Albinos have suffered neglect, says Shagari

By  Abdalla el-Kurebe

Former President Aliyu Shehu Usman Shagari has observed that the Albinos in Nigeria have been not only neglected but also discriminated against for many years and described the Albino Foundation as a platform to create awareness and mobilize support for the albinos.

He made this observation in an address  delivered at the 4th National Conference on Albinism, which opened in Sokoto, Monday last week.

Shagari said “Albinos in our midst have suffered untold neglect and discrimination over the years,” adding that “Much of the discrimination and neglect suffered by Albinos can be traced to ignorance on the part of the general public.”

Noting that ignorance pervaded policy and programme areas in as much was done to create opportunity for policy space for the Albinos, he asked what would be done to remove the veil of ignorance and support Albinos in Nigeria. “Now, what do we do to remove the veil of ignorance and support over 2 million albinos?”

“All of us, from government to the last man on the street have to embrace the Albinism advocacy. We must discuss it in formal conferences as we are doing today; we must have town hall meetings to educate communities; we must initiate policies and programmes; we must take responsibility to remind Albinos to get out of the sun; we must take action, each and every one of us,” Shagari retorted.

Applauding the thought for the conference being a course for social change, he said: “This conference will chart a course to change the way society sees Albinism; find ways to support Albinos who have skin cancer and prevent many more from being affected; engage government in ways that will bring out the required policies that will change the situation and make all of us change agents to support Albinos all over Nigeria.”

Shagari further observed that the media have great role to play because, according to him, “they have greater public space than most of us, to highlight, educate and inform the general public about issues in Albinism.”

Stressing that appropriate information removes the veil of ignorance and misconceptions about Albinism, he added that there was no greater opportunity for Nigerians to do good to the albinos than now.